Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 68.39
Liaison Brian Liechti
Submission Date March 4, 2020

STARS v2.2

Warren Wilson College
PA-2: Sustainability Planning

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Margo Flood
Sustainability Project Coordinator
Finance and Administration
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in curriculum and/or research?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to academics and the plan(s) in which they are published:

The College's Mission and Strategic Plan, which represent our highest values, articulate sustainability as a core value. Our unique curriculum of liberal arts academics, work and community engagement is intentionally integrated by a Civic Identity framework that ensures each Warren Wilson student has direct experience with sustainability challenges (as defined by AASHE) and knows how to address them first-hand.

In addition, in 2008, our shared governance body, which included the approval of the President and Trustees, endorsed the following sustainability statement which serves to guide curriculum, operations, campus climate and aspirations for Warren Wilson College:

We acknowledge that a complex web of economic, social, cultural, spiritual and environmental factors determine the well-being of our community.

We recognize our power as individuals, and in community, to influence these complex, interdependent relationships.

We strive to make responsible decisions that take into account the multiple dimensions of sustainability in order to ensure quality of life now and for generations to come.

The "Civic Identity Frames Learning" document, attached to this report, fully describes curricular objectives related to analyzing, understanding and acting upon sustainability challenges as pledged in the College's sustainability declaration above. A brief overview of the Civic Identity approach follows:

In order to meet their Civic Identity objectives, all Warren Wilson graduates participate in coursework and experiences that support the following learning outcomes:

•Writing Across the Curriculum: Communication is a crucial skill. Effective members of communities are able to navigate interactions with a variety of audiences using a variety of rhetorical purposes.

•Foundational Skills and Knowledge: Creative problem solvers have the tools for invention, synthesis, and imagination in unexpected contexts. To do this successfully as a community member, empathy is crucial, as is the ability to provide data-driven analyses and evaluation. Engagement with a variety of disciplines is critical for development of these tools; it also empowers students to become more aware of their passions and limitations. These requirements include engaging with courses distributed across all academic divisions.

•Values of a Civic Identity: A strong civic identity requires a strong sense of one’s values. At Warren Wilson College, key values include “environmental responsibility, cross-cultural understanding, and the common good.” In our General Education requirements, we incorporate these values as Environmental Responsibility, Intercultural Understanding, Social Justice, and Service Learning. Exploration of values is a developmental process. Students engage with Foundational- and Intermediate-level Values courses that commit to ethical integrity, justice, and equality. (courses are designated "values courses" in the catalog and they are required)

In addition to Civic Identity objectives, there are also General Education Requirements that meet measurable sustainability objectives (ie sustainability as defined by AASHE):

An education not only brings knowledge, but also the skills to think through complicated real-world problems that arise in complex and diverse communities of which all people are a part. A Warren Wilson College education enables students to gain a clearer perspective on themselves and to better comprehend the perspectives of those around them. The General Education program includes scaffolded requirements that provide developmental guidance, while allowing students the flexibility to pursue their individual passions and approaches. Through experiential learning, students acquire knowledge, develop skills, and hone values that comprise their identity. Graduates participate broadly and effectively in the collaboration that is human culture and work collectively for a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.

In addition, the following academic objectives appear in the College's Climate Action Plan:
•Invite the increasing numbers of faculty who discuss some aspect of sustainability in their courses to consider a more formal placement of this topic in their syllabi
•Implement the Chemistry Department’s new strategic plan that includes energy as a required area of competency; three chemistry courses will cover the science of climate change
•Continue to involve faculty and their classes in the implementation and further development of the Climate Action Plan
•Plan for the following climate change studies:
oBehavior change response to the Climate Action Plan (psychology department)
oCarbon sequestration studies for campus lands (forestry and chemistry)
oCarbon offsets as economic development initiatives (global studies)
oGIS presentations of the College’s Climate Action Plan progress
•Ensure that the more than 60% of all Warren Wilson students who take Introduction to Environmental Studies, where they study climate change, are encouraged to support the Climate Action Plan
•Invite faculty to a discussion about the interdisciplinary aspects of the climate change challenge


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address student, employee, or community engagement for sustainability?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to engagement and the plan(s) in which they are published:

See attached document - "Civic Identity Frames Learning" - for a description of our learning outcomes. Specific sustainability objectives in Community Engagement are articulated in that document (ie sustainability as defined by AASHE). A general description of Community Engagement objectives follows:

All Warren Wilson undergraduates must fulfill a Community Engagement requirement that includes serving, each semester, with regional nonprofits who address pressing sustainability issues. In their freshman year, students select experiences with community partners who address the following sustainability issues: race and immigration, youth and education, environment, food security, and, housing and homelessness. In a carefully structured program of increasing engagement, students eventually select one of these thematic areas to focus upon. At each stage, their engagement experiences also fulfill some of the Civic Identity requirements. By senior year, students demonstrate, via seminars and reflection papers, that they have gained the critical and interdisciplinary skills required to participate effectively in analyzing and addressing these sustainability-related issues.

In addition, from the Climate Action Plan, the following objectives are relevant to community engagement:
•Foster student understanding of sustainability as a framework through which to address community problems through a formal reflection process that examines the complex roots of these issues
•Continue to develop service opportunities in areas of student interest; to date, 60% of the projects students choose focus on environmental or social justice issues, many of which are related to climate and energy impacts like weatherization of homes of people living in poverty, engagement in affordable housing issues in the region, rebuilding communities in Louisiana and Mississippi, and assisting with community gardens to enhance local food production


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address sustainability in operations?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to operations and the plan(s) in which they are published:

Seeking to implement best sustainable practices is the mode of operation campus-wide. This litmus test is known, weighed, and applied whenever possible for many of the College's 80 student work crews. These crews participate in the management and actual work of all campus operations.

From the Farm's IPM plan, to the Recycling Crew's Zero Waste Commitment, and the Local Food Crew's Real Food Initiative, published sustainability objectives exist for numerous crews and many of them have been shared in this full STARS report. Published plans also include the ACUPCC Climate Action Plan (approved in 2008 and soon to be updated) which sets forth numerous sustainability objectives in operations campus wide.

The management of the College's 1050 acre campus lands are informed by numerous Pattern Languages, which have been mentioned in this full STARS report. Land Use Principles dictate sustainability objectives for land management. An excerpt from the Pattern Language for land use follows:

Principle 4: Decisions shall protect and enhance the ecosystem.

• Ecosystems maintain integrity when their native components are intact. Areas and taxa of special biological interest shall be protected and/or created to enhance the educational value of our land.

• The College’s land use practices shall enhance the components of the native ecosystem - soil, water, air quality, as well as biodiversity and endemism when appropriate.

• Areas under cultivation are, by definition, impacted ecosystems. To lessen impact on the native ecosystem, sustainable cultivation methods shall be practiced.

• Fossil fuel efficiency and conservation shall be a deciding factor when choosing land management practices.

Principle 5: The land shall be used for education in a broad context.

• Academics curriculum and Work Program practices shall both reflect use of the land as a living laboratory via hands-on study and adherence to best sustainable land use practices.

• Choice of land use practices shall weigh objective data on best sustainable methods, and honor the College’s principles.

• College Farm, Garden, Landscape and Forest management shall serve as a demonstration of sustainable practices for the region.

• Visitors shall be informed of the principles the College uses to manage its lands and instructed on their responsibility as guests.

Warren Wilson's commitment to periodic updates of AASHE's STARS metric also provides a set of measurable sustainability objectives that the campus continues to utilize as an important road map to the fulfillment of our sustainability commitment.


Does the institution have a published plan or plans that include measurable sustainability objectives that address diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainable investment/finance; or wellbeing?:
Yes

A list or sample of the measurable sustainability objectives related to administration and the plan(s) in which they are published:

In the past three years, the College's leadership team has affirmed diversity, equity and inclusion as one of its top priorities and developed programs and trainings to address its importance. It appears prominently in the Strategic Plan and not just as a value. Measurable action plans/accountability accompany all sections of the Strategic Plan including those that follow:

Strategic Imperative 3:
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The College is unwavering in our commitment to the dignity of all people – particularly those populations who have been both historically oppressed and continue to experience systemic oppression. While we value the breadth of diversity necessary for a rich campus culture, we also recognize the particular challenge and opportunity for growth and leadership around race, noting that such a focus necessarily intersects with deepening efforts around other aspects of identity (such as ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexuality, class, and worldview). We are committed to a culture of educational access and ensuring that students and employees from a diverse range of identities and experiences will thrive in this community.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion's measurable sustainability objectives include curricular improvements (as supported by our Building Diversity Initiative), improved and enhanced campus climate (as monitored and supported by our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion cross-sector committee), ample and effective programs, for which Warren Wilson invests heavily and intentionally (see Diversity Program of Distinction write up), and affordability, which is central to a diverse and vibrant community (as enacted in our two tuition-free programs implemented in 2018 for qualified students).

Well-being is central to developing a positive campus culture. Warren Wilson's sustainability objectives for wellness include the work of our Wellness Center to provide programming that helps inculcate a wellness lifestyle. This goal is foremost, as well, throughout the work of Student Life, with themed dorms as one example of how the objectives carry forth into campus action. Wellness is also a central theme of the Strategic Plan:

Strategic Imperative 5:
Co-Curricular Programs
To enhance a student’s sense of belonging, enjoyment, purpose, social, and individual development, Warren Wilson College will provide thriving athletic, outdoor, artistic, and cultural experiences and organizations. We will cultivate a healthy community and personal well-being through integrating co-curricular programming and collaborating across campus.

In addition, the College has measurable commitments to sustainable "ESG" endowment management and to divestment of fossil fuels from its fund. Our progress toward these goals has been significant. In response to a 2015 pledge to be fossil-fuel investment free in our entire endowment by 2020, by January 2020 we were 99% free. See forms PA-9 and PA-10 for specific information about these commitments.


Does the institution have a published strategic plan or equivalent guiding document that includes sustainability at a high level? :
Yes

The institution’s highest guiding document (upload):
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Website URL where the institution’s highest guiding document is publicly available:
Which of the following best describes the inclusion of sustainability in the highest guiding document?:
Major theme

The institution's sustainability plan (upload):
Website URL where the institution's sustainability plan is publicly available:
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Does the institution have a formal statement in support of sustainability endorsed by its governing body?:
Yes

The formal statement in support of sustainability:

Sustainability is a major theme throughout our Strategic Plan:

Mission
Warren Wilson College will be distinguished by an innovative approach that intentionally integrates applied learning and academics within the liberal arts tradition. We are committed to providing an educational program that promotes curiosity, empathy, and integrity. We prepare graduates to engage in groundbreaking scholarship, pursue meaningful careers with professionalism, and lead purposeful lives dedicated to fostering a just, equitable, and sustainable world.

Strategic Imperative 2:
Academic Excellence
The academic programs of Warren Wilson College will challenge students to produce high-quality scholarship and creative work through intentionally scaffolded courses that lead to signature capstone experiences. This education will integrate intellectual foundations with applied skill development and problem-solving that will prepare students for purposeful careers, graduate work, and effective community engagement.

Strategic Imperative 3:
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The College is unwavering in our commitment to the dignity of all people – particularly those populations who have been both historically oppressed and continue to experience systemic oppression. While we value the breadth of diversity necessary for a rich campus culture, we also recognize the particular challenge and opportunity for growth and leadership around race, noting that such a focus necessarily intersects with deepening efforts around other aspects of identity (such as ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexuality, class, and worldview). We are committed to a culture of educational access and ensuring that students and employees from a diverse range of identities and experiences will thrive in this community.

Strategic Imperative 4:
Land and Environmental Sustainability
Warren Wilson College will be a living laboratory for innovative land management and practices for moving toward carbon neutrality and zero waste production. Our campus provides an immersive context for application and development of professional skills and community leadership in sustainability, integrated throughout the educational programs.

4.a. Land Stewardship
Warren Wilson College lands will become a regional model for integrative land stewardship based on innovation, conservation, and outreach by providing our students with a systems-based approach to land management. We will collaborate to exchange sustainable management practices and to build an example of a resilient and productive working landscape.

4.b. Just and Sustainable Practices
By adhering to rigorous, holistic standards for campus sustainability, through inclusive decision-making, and in partnership with businesses, nonprofits, and governments, Warren Wilson College will continually address the effects of climate change and other societal problems. We will pursue exemplary sustainability practices throughout our educational model, business practices, food systems, and the built campus, thus preparing students to create just, sustainable communities.

Strategic Imperative 5:
Co-Curricular Programs
To enhance a student’s sense of belonging, enjoyment, purpose, social, and individual development, Warren Wilson College will provide thriving athletic, outdoor, artistic, and cultural experiences and organizations. We will cultivate a healthy community and personal well-being through integrating co-curricular programming and collaborating across campus.

Strategic Imperative 6:
Foundation for Growth
In order to realize the goals of the 2022 strategic plan, Warren Wilson College will grow enrollment, increase fundraising, and develop other sources of revenue by building a solid infrastructure of people, places, and processes with a focus on the well-being of individuals in our community.


The institution’s definition of sustainability:

The following definition was approved by Warren Wilson's shared governance body - the Forum - in 2008 and guides the development of actions and objectives related to sustainability campus-wide.

We acknowledge that a complex web of economic, social, cultural, spiritual and environmental factors determine the well-being of our community.
We recognize our power as individuals, and in community, to influence these complex, interdependent relationships.
We strive to make responsible decisions that take into account the multiple dimensions of sustainability in order to ensure quality of life now and for generations to come.


Is the institution an endorser or signatory of the following? :
Yes or No
The Earth Charter No
The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) No
ISCN-GULF Sustainable Campus Charter No
Pan-Canadian Protocol for Sustainability No
SDG Accord No
Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment (formerly known as the ACUPCC), Resilience Commitment, and/or integrated Climate Commitment Yes
The Talloires Declaration (TD) Yes
UN Global Compact No
Other multi-dimensional sustainability commitments (please specify below) Yes

A brief description of the institution’s formal sustainability commitments, including the specific initiatives selected above:

Warren Wilson signed the Talloires Declaration in 2000; became the first North Carolina college to sign on to ACUPCC in 2007; and signed on to "We Are Still In" in 2017; following a student-led initiative, Warren Wilson College President Lynn Morton signed the Higher Education Carbon Pricing Endorsement Initiative in 2019, becoming the first college or university president in North Carolina to do so. The President is also a member of the Presidents Alliance on Immigration and Higher Education.

Since the late 1980's Warren Wilson has developed and approved numerous sustainability commitments through its shared governance system. Shared governance has long been an organizing principle at the College. Faculty, students, staff and administrators engage through various bodies in the deliberation of policies, principles, and strategic directions. For sustainability (though early on in the '80's it went by the name "environmental responsibility") the ethos runs deep. Sustainability commitments made through shared governance range from general commitment statements to Pattern Languages that set forth principles to guide campus decisionmakers in sustainable choices. In 2008, the College approved its formal sustainability commitment and joined ACUPCC and AASHE. Pattern Languages, based on the work of architect Christopher Alexander, demonstrate Warren Wilson's early commitments to sustainability as manifestations of its core values. The Patterns set forth guiding principles for succeeding generations of campus managers, express the ethos of stewardship so deeply held by the College, and are subject to periodic updates in application as best practices evolve:

Forest Management Plan (1980/1990)

•Protection of the forest resources, and enhancement of the resources when feasible.
•Use of the of forest resources for the purpose of education, in a broad context,
•Maintenance of the aesthetic environment, including hiking trails and forested areas set aside to be used for relaxation and reflection.
•Optimization of forest products for use by the community, or for sale.
•Silviculture most appropriate, for this forest will emphasize natural regeneration through partial cutting and the creation and maintenance of mixed stands comprising primarily local, native species.
•Severe canopy disturbances (clear-cutting or overstory removal) limited to small areas.
•Harvesting will rely most heavily on small equipment, appropriate to the scale of our forest and to the style of silviculture practiced here.

Solid Waste Pattern Language (1986/1994)

•Warren Wilson will manage its solid waste in a safe, responsible and legal manner with a goal of 40% reduction of the volume of the college’s waste stream by 1991.
•The College will develop a long range, solid waste management plan to accomplish the stated objectives.
•A solid waste committee will monitor the implementation of the management plan and assist in the review and update of the plan every two years. This committee will initially be appointed as an ad hoc committee by the Business Manager and then ultimately become a subcommittee of the Business Affairs Advisory Committee.
•Recycling is mandatory at Warren Wilson College.

Hazardous Materials Pattern Language (1986/1997)

•To insure the education, disposal, and management of hazardous waste on campus to comply with all federal, state, and county regulations.
•The Hazmat Committee will oversee implementation of policy.

Long Range Facilities Plan (1992)

•Principles are to be applied to the improvement of roads, parking, buildings, signage and lighting.
•The Warren Wilson campus will reflect its rural setting and village concept.
•The presumption is in favor of aesthetics (including trees and other natural features) and people in locating utilities, roads, buildings, etc.
•All decisions about what to build and how to build grow out of a participatory process within the shared governance system.
•All design and construction is guided by the collection of planning principles adopted by the community.
•Design choices will prefer minimal environmental impact and maximal energy efficiency
•People, aesthetics and environmentally sound choices may frequently be in tension.Therefore, these will be weighted on a case-by-case basis.
•The well being of the whole will be protected by an annual diagnosis, which analyzes, in detail, which spaces are alive (productively and/or pleasingly in use) and which ones are dead.

Long Range Land Use Plan (1996)

Issues for which this pattern language applies:
•Academic/programmatic use of land.
•Environmental impact: analysis of the environmental impact of land use must be a part of the decision-making process about use of the land.
•Neighboring uses: minimize negative effects to the College and the neighboring lands, or enhance positive effects on development and use of Warren Wilson or neighboring land.
•Economic implications of use: land use must be judged in economic terms; these will not, and should not, always be a controlling factor, but must always be used to inform land use decisions; the overall economic status of the College may precipitate the need to undertake such decisions.
•Partnership uses.
•Acquisition/disposition of property.
•Changing use patterns (e.g. changes in Farm operation).
•Building Site selection.

Implementation process:
•Plans should be developed in three-year cycles; longer-range planning by staff and administration can be undertaken if authorized by the Trustees.
•Revisit, annually, the status of the plan, as well as any further considerations referred by the administration or Board of Trustees.
•The Business Affairs committee is responsible for overseeing the coming year’s plan.
•Each fall, the Long Range Land Use Committee will present the following year’s plan at a joint session of the Business Affairs and Long-Range Land Use Committee and hand off the plan for implementation to Business Affairs.

Principles: These will shape the ongoing land use plan. Others may be needed and added, but none of these may be violated.
•Support of Community Life: “…No decision should be taken regarding use of the land which would negatively affect the physical or philosophical sense of place that exists here.”
•Common Sense. “All decisions about land use … should also be tested by discussion and intuitive thought.”
•Preponderantly Positive Impact. “Changes in land use should be structured so as to yield a strongly net positive effect on the land and the community.”
•Community Participation. “Proposed major changes in land use should be presented to and discussed by the Warren Wilson community for recommendation to the President and Board of Trustees.”
•Pastoral Preservation. “Long-term development within the campus lands should not be allowed to erode the pastoral nature of the place. In particular, sprawl should be avoided in any growth of the College.”
•Building on hindsight. “We should learn from past successes and mistakes.”
•Searching for the reciprocal. “Change is usually driven by individual programs. Potential impact on the larger community must always be considered in evaluating land use issues.”
•Renewal: “A mechanism for maintenance must be a part of any ongoing plan.”
•Endowment: “The riches of the land that the College enjoys must always be seen as an endowment. As such they must be managed for the good of the community.”
•Productivity. “…everything at WWC must work for the common good. None of the land or its fruits should be neglected.”

Land Use Patterns:
•Include appropriate density of campus buildings.
•Recognize that valleys should be maintained for agricultural purposes.
•Outward views from buildings should be filtered by vegetation.
•Land use practices should enhance access to the river and facilitate its use and enjoyment sense of place should be maintained.

Farm Long Range Land Use Plan (1998)

•Developed to incorporate the Farm Task Force Goals (1995) and create a plan that is “economically viable and environmentally sound.”
•Overarching goals include these:
•Serve the greater needs of the college by education, practical experience, and a connection to the larger environment
•Be highly productive but do as little harm to soil and water quality as
possible
•Be economically viable.
•Some of the commitments include these: eliminate use of pesticides; eliminate all livestock access to the river and its tributaries; remove non-native and invasive species of weeks and vines; develop wildlife habitat areas along streams and drainage ditches; implement pasture rotation to minimize impact on soil and water quality.

Landscape Pattern Language (1999)

•All landscape design should reflect the Environmental Pattern Language.
•Design and implement landscapes that are low maintenance, environmentally sound, and aesthetically pleasing, using native grasses, trees, shrubs, and wildflowers where appropriate to establish and maintain natural areas throughout core campus.
•Landscape design should enhance the educational function of the College.
•The landscape of core campus should contain a network of comprehensive pathways to make the campus a pedestrian and environmentally friendly place.

Native Biodiversity, Wildlife, and Fisheries Pattern Language (2000)

•“Because the rich biodiversity of WWC is integral to the environmental legacy of the college … there is an imperative to conserve native biodiversity, fisheries, and wildlife on Warren Wilson property.”
•Maintain a college-wide biodiversity and wildlife management plan integrated with other management plans (farm, garden, forest, landscaping, archeological, recreation, development).
•The college should adopt a no net loss of wetlands policy on its property.
•Riparian zones should be maintained or enhanced for conservation of biodiversity whenever possible at widths appropriate to conditions.
•Loss of acreage of Warren Wilson agricultural land should be minimized.
•Because agricultural lands are integral to conservation efforts, agricultural management activities should work, when appropriate, in consultation with faculty members who have conservation biology expertise.

Purchasing Pattern Language (2001)

•Warren Wilson has a moral obligation to set a clear example for current and future generations.
•Purchasing policies should demonstrate the social and environmental commitments in the College’s Mission Statement and in its Environmental Commitment Statement.
•Purchasers must take into account the environmental and economic impact of their buying choices.
•Purchasers should understand the advantages of environmentally friendly and socially sound purchasing practices and … become an attitude used by all those making decisions.
•Warren Wilson is interested in buying materials that promote the health and sustainability of our biosphere (specific suggestions of principles to guide these purchases).
•Preference should be given to products that use the least or conserve the most energy, water, gas, and other nonrenewable or environmentally costly resources.
•Gifts and donations should be subject to the same standards as purchased products.
•Warren Wilson will seek to avoid purchasing from companies with specific socially unethical business practices.
•The College will strive to develop an environmentally friendly vendor list for use in purchasing decisions.


Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability planning efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

College documents and campus leaders provided the data for this report. The VP for Academic Affairs reviewed all content and approved it. In response to the STARS review team, objectives for academics and engagement were copied from the Climate Action Plan and added to this section.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.